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ASU D1 Hockey faces familiar foe in North Dakota

(Photo: Allyson Cummings/WCSN)

The 4-0 Sun Devils are on the road for the first time of this 2014-15 ACHA season.

Coming off two dominating routs of the West Chester University Golden Rams, ASU looks to extend their win streak to six in a tough road challenge against No. 6 Minot State. These two teams faced off in the quarterfinals of last year’s National Tournament, where ASU came out victorious 4-0 en route to their National Championship.

Arizona State simply obliterated West Chester last weekend. Goaltenders Lucas Felbel and starter Robert Levin pitched 14-0 and 9-0 shutouts, respectively. After opening up the season with two mediocre opponents, Levin should anticipate a much greater challenge from a top-ten opponent that has already scored 12 goals thus far. The Sun Devils showed their ability to outskate their opponents, as they created countless odd-man rush opportunities and limited their opponents shot totals.

“Two dominating wins – that’s what we want to do when we play teams that we should dominate, not just beat, we need to dominate them, and we did,” said ASU head coach Greg Powers. “We’re going to see speed, skill, and depth that we haven’t seen yet with Minot this weekend so it’s important that we had a good practice.”

Sophomore Eric Rivard torched West Chester’s backline, totaling five goals including a hat trick in the second game. Tommy Cooney also had seven points over the weekend. He led the charge as Coach Powers’ team spread the wealth, with numerous players getting involved in putting the puck in the net. Forwards Sean Murphy and Chris Burkemper have been vital in the Sun Devil’s attack, both showing the ability to set up their teammates and leading the team with six assists each.

After opening up their new season against Briercrest, who is 0-6, Minot State has the opportunity to make a statement at home against Arizona State. Things might not come so easily on this side of the Canadian border for the national champion of two years ago.

“A win’s not going to come easy,” said Powers. “The we’re the National Champs before us until we knocked them out of the National Tournament. We have a nice rivalry between the two programs.”

They are spear-headed by a triple threat of Jeremy Johnson, Sam Briscoe, and Brett McNevin, each who had three goals against Briercest. This is the first season that the Beavers will spend without former ACHA Player of the Year Wyatt Waselenchuk minding the net. In their first series, senior Riley Hengen saved 96% of shots faced, outplaying freshman Connor Beauchamp who only saved 89%.

“[Minot] is big, tough, hard to play against,” said Powers. “ It will be good for our young team to go up in one of the toughest environment’s to try and get a couple of wins. They just know how to play hockey and they’re fun to play against because of it.”

Regardless of the ease of their prior opponents, both teams are up for a challenge this weekend in North Dakota. The puck drops tonight at 7:30 as these two top ten teams face off in a rematch of last year’s semifinal game.

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